Pixar Canada Closed In Surprise Move, Disney Lays Off 100 Employees

Pixar Canada produced the short Partysaurus

Vancouver facility shuttered immediately as B.C. incentives fall behind

Reversing the recent trend of digital production migrating to Canada, Disney has decided to shutter Pixar Canada in Vancouver, eliminating about 100 jobs north of the border.

According to Canadian news site The Province, Disney spokesperson Barb Matheson said “A decision was made to refocus operations and resources under the one roof, Staff were just told today. Not great news, obviously.” That one facility is Pixar’s HQ in Emeryville, Calif.

Disney was drawn to Vancouver by tax incentives, and this closure comes in the wake of British Columbia incentives falling behind those offered by Ontario and Quebec. It is possible the Mouse House might look at Ontario or Quebec as new locations for a Canada branch. But a Pixar spokesman declined to comment on that possibility and released the following statement: “The team at Pixar Canada is incredibly talented and we are so proud of the excellent work we have produced there. However, as we look at the creative and business needs of our studio, we’ve made the decision to refocus our efforts and resources under one roof in Emeryville and will be closing the studio in Vancouver.

Pixar Canada has produced several shorts for the studio, including “Air Mater,” “Small Fry” and “Partysaurus Rex” (see above and below), since 2010. Pixar’s shorts have been a proving ground for new directors and concepts for the studio.  Operations there will cease immediately.


Partysaurus Rex on Disney Video

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  1. JimBrooks says:

    As everyone here has said, this is a TERRIBLE article masquerading as journalism. Ok, we get it. In LA it’s cool to sell the “shifting tax subsidy”, “race to the bottom” story. You’ve covered it quite extensively now Mr. Cohen. The only problem is this story has NOTHING to do with reduced tax subsidies or the company looking at other provinces. They have a huge workforce in Emeryville and as a company didn’t feel it was financially worthwhile to keep a Vancouver office open doing short films. It’s expensive to operate in Vancouver, and this was a corporate financial decision. NOTHING to do with the headline of this article which is reduced tax subsidies. There has been no reduction in tax subsidies. Please do a LITTLE research or publish this as an op-ed piece before doing a dis-service to your readers David.

  2. Alex says:

    Finally something happening in Canada – it’s sad when they artificialize the market with government subsidies and even more sad when your job is erased by a pen stroke the very moment money is over.
    At least California artists will benefit from this.

    NO MORE SUBSIDIES!!!

  3. :) Welcome back home Pixar. We can use the jobs.

  4. notamused says:

    It is utterly misleading to state BC tax incentives have been reduced. That has not happened. The tax incentives are exactly what they were when Pixar moved in. Ontario and Quebec have greater tax incentives but that’s the only change in Canada and irrelevant to this story since Pixar isn’t relocating to either of those provinces.

    More likely it’s the cost of doing business. Real estate is pricey and the Canadian dollar is at a higher value than it was when Pixar arrived.

    • Van City Producer says:

      Yes, utterly misleading. But this has nothing to do with Ontario or Quebec, they are not moving there.
      Real Estate leases here are no more costly than LA or Northern Cal, and even with the CA Dollar rising here an employee is still much less expensive. The kitchen staff in Emeryville is probably larger than the entire Vancouver staff. Disney is simply shifting work to contractual workers in Northern Cal because those workers were put on hold when the recent slate of films was pushed. They write off the operation expenses lost in Vancouver. Vancouver has amassed one of the largest collection of talented artists and managers in the world who also love to live and work here. We Create BC.

      • chrisw says:

        @vancity producer
        I dont think david’s article is at all misleading in the way you describe. And subsidies are very relevant as we have seen in the past years around the world. I am not going to name names but you can easily find many examples of operations worldwide in subsidy heavy locations who shutter immediately without notice and who suffers most? The rank and file emplyees who turn up for work one day to find the doors locked. The words you use in your reply even have a subconscious undercurrent of this subsidy location business model and its view of transient commodity workers. Rates not higher? What about living costs? That is crazy for workers in van. But you also mention that wages are lower. Well thats a good thing for the the books but also suggests that workers are of a lwer quality. Top workers will not live in one of the most expensive cities in NA for lower wages. You also say’ workers amassed’. Well, throw in subsidies, and that sounds like a turn of the previous century comany town, like a gangs of new york,all made possible by government money. Cheap workers at factory gates,not a high technology,best international hitech workforce (that costs money and can survive,like emeryville,without subsidy manipulation). We will see several more examples of this in vancouver in the near future, i am sure. You can manipulate markets in the short run but long term,fundamentals always come back to bite you. You win again, gravity!

  5. BC VFX General says:

    David –

    Quit Editorializing. This was the statement:

    “The team at Pixar Canada is incredibly talented, and we are so proud of the excellent work we have produced there,” Disney-owned Pixar said in a statement. “However, as we look at the creative and business needs of our studio, we’ve made the decision to refocus our efforts and resources under one roof in Emeryville and will be closing the studio in Vancouver.” Pixar’s Canada outpost had worked on cartoon shorts including Air Mater, Small Fry and Partysaurus Rex since opening in 2010. “Staff were just told today. Not great news, obviously,” Disney spokeswoman Barb Matheson told Vancouver paper The Province, which first reported the closure. “It was just a refocussing of efforts and resources to the one facility.”

    This is the actual article:

    http://blogs.theprovince.com/2013/10/08/pixar-canada-shuts-its-doors-in-vancouver/

    Not one mention of reduced incentives as the reason. In fact the article mentions how robust the sector is in BC.

    Get out of bed with your local Visual Effect buddies.

  6. James Goldfarb says:

    Hey David –

    Please point us to an article supporting Pixar’s claim the subsidies have been reduced. I cannot seem to find anything online that mentions this.

    Thank you.

  7. BC in the Know says:

    Tax Incentives in BC reduced? Simply not true. In fact they will be increasing in the Post sector next year to become part of the DAVE incentive.

    They tell lies rather than admit to their own business problems.

  8. David says:

    Turns out there are government idiots on both sides of the border, who knew?

  9. Brooke says:

    The reasons for this are plain. Good Dinosaur got moved back a year, Finding Dory got moved back to 2016. There will be no Pixar film next year. Therefore, profits drop from that division with no film revenue for 2014 and the all important investors must be appeased with minimal losses as possible per quarter, if not yearly. Add in Vancouver tax credits being lessened and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why they abruptly closed with no real warning signs. The investors only care about money, which is all the animation business is about now anyway.

    • Luis says:

      Brooke hit the nail on the head with this one. maybe variety should hire Brooke to do this instead of the joker who wrote the initial article

  10. rfk says:

    It’s a lot easier to keep animators “in their place” if you keep them moving all the time…

  11. Kaiju Cowboy says:

    Sorry to hear about those people losing their jobs, but if this means less Pixar movies and higher quality, I think it’s a good move by Disney.

    • RA Eckart says:

      The Pixar business model will move to one original & one sequel per year by 2015, so there’s no hope for fewer movies. Quality is only what you judge of the work. But Pixar will need those people somewhere unless technology is what’s really driving employees out.

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